*The Boys season one spoilers ahead.*
Amazon’s The Boys landed on Prime earlier this year and it shaped up to be the superhero series for people that hate superheroes. Littered with Marvel & DC digs, the series showcases a darker, corrupt side of superhero culture.
Homelander is the patriotic, omnipotent leader of The Seven. He can shoot lasers from his eyes, fly, see-through walls, read a heartbeat. He is essentially Superman meets Captain America only instead of omnibenevolence, we have a man that has little respect for human life. It quickly becomes clear that Homelander has the power to do whatever he wants and the only thing holding him back is Madelyn Stillwell. Madelyn is like the money-grabbing equivalent of Nick Fury, except instead of helping the Avengers save the world, she is using her sexuality to manipulate Homelander into making her cold hard cash.
The parallels between the rest of The Seven are also pretty obvious. The faster-than-light A-Train is a reputation-obsessed Quick Silver, Deep is Aquaman, Black Noir is a darker-still Batman, and Queen Maeve is a clone of Wonder Woman. Her costume is practically a replica of Gal Godot’s and she represents the strong, female figure. Of course, in The Boys, the strong female figure has little substance. Queen Maeve answers to her superiors and when it comes down to actually saving people, there’s not much she can do when Homelander tells her it is time to go home. She is essentially a collection of superhero powers in a flattering costume.
These parallels work to critique MCU and DCEU in a multitude of ways. The Boys explores the concept of collateral damage, reputation, and a darker reality of what a world with superheroes would actually be like. Although some of these concepts are touched on in Captain America: Civil War, The Boys takes them to extremes. It does this so effectively that we can’t help but look at characters like Quick Silver and wonder whether he ever accidentally ran through someone’s girlfriend.
Finally, if we’re going to get really “meta” about it, The Boys challenges the audience’s obsession with superhero culture. The Avengers alone has pulled in billions of dollars in cinema sales and Marvel Studios is currently valued at just shy of $5 billion. MCU hashtags are often trending on Twitter, just like The Seven trend in The Boys. Marvel and DC are literally dominating the box office and it’s our obsession with superheroes that allows it to happen. We’re not saying that Marvel is equivalent to Vought International, but perhaps we ought to be a little more skeptical when buying into the shiny, polished superhero dream. I mean seriously Captain America, nobody can be that perfect.